Chef Daniel Boulud expands into casual cuisine

Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:34am EDT
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By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - America's preeminent French chef Daniel Boulud says luxury is alive and well and though he's expanding into more accessible food, he is uncompromising about his take on casual dining.

The three-star Michelin mastermind behind an empire that includes a dozen restaurants and catering company in New York, Florida, London, Beijing and Singapore is set to open two new Manhattan venues in May -- a Mediterranean grill and adjacent cafe and market.

Boulud, 56, who closed his two Vancouver restaurants earlier this month, said he is looking closely at a new project in Toronto, and hoped to confirm it soon.

He spoke to Reuters from New York about his inspirations, the backlash against self-satisfied foodies and the most tiresome culinary craze.

Q: What was some of the inspiration behind your new restaurant Boulud Sud and cafe/market Epicerie Boulud?

A: "I had a lot of fun creating some restaurants with a casual note to it, such as DBGB, for example, where it was about bangers and beers, being a very casual brasserie with very affordable food but very interesting homemade program ...

"I worked in the south of France for three years and I never forgot my time there from eating a pain bagnat on the beach to enjoying the sort of casual approach to Mediterranean cuisine ... not by virtue of simplicity. For me to go casual is not to go simple. To me it is to be able to bring back the art of tradition and the soul of French food and my interpretation of that."

Q: Given the rise of global food prices and popularity of more casual and affordable restaurants since the recession, what do you think the future is like for fine dining?   Continued...

<p>French restaurateur Daniel Boulud works in the kitchen of his restaurant in Beijing, August 15, 2008. REUTERS/Gil Cohen Magen</p>